Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thank you!

To Chef Reggie, thanks for including me in your column today.
It was absolutely wonderful meeting you and I haven't forgotten our conversations that night.
I'm elated to know that you understood my passion for food.

Here's Chef Reggie's column:

Bay area hotel has steaks done to perfection
By Reggie Aspiras
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Good enough to keep the image on your phone so that you can show other restos exactly how you want them done
I HAVE MET many food lovers but few of them are as passionate as Babyruth Chuansu whom I met during Pinoy Eats World’s fifth Guerilla Dinner.

She spoke about food in a fashion so fiery, with eyes locked in a vision of whatever dish she is momentarily enthralled by. Just listening to her would make your mouth water.

I was so impressed when we talked about steaks. She playfully showed me a photograph of a perfectly done steak on her phone and quipped: “You know chef Reggie, when I order steak, I show them this, the way I want my steak done. I took this at the Fireplace where they get my steaks right all the time.”

She doesn’t want to be disappointed. “If they cannot do it this way I would order something else,” she says.

Then I realized, the Hyatt’s Fireplace… I have not given it its due.

I have almost forgotten how well this hotel tucked away in the bay area prepares its steaks.

I paid executive chef Josef Miklavc a visit to see what’s cooking.

Just walking into the Fireplace is always a thrill. The warmth and glow from the Beech Ovens give this place its distinct homey charm. As I sat down, he warmly greeted me with his cheerful smile.

I left it all to him to shape my dinner experience and I was not at all disappointed.

The freshly baked bread was perfect—crusty on the outside, moist and soft on the inside. With sun-dried tomato tapanade, it was sheer perfection.

From experience, I can tell that a perfectly baked bread is a portent of tastier things.

Miklavc gave us a most flavorful smoked duck, with watercress, roasted beets, reblochon wafer, walnut vinaigrette, followed by a tasting plate of steaks cooked medium to perfection, like only the Fireplace consistently does.

On that sampler plate were Snake River Wagyu from US, Tajima Wagyu from Australia, Certified Angus Beef from America with Potato Gratin and garden vegetables.

All three steaks were impeccably done, with one being better than the other only as a matter of your personal preference.

They melted in your mouth, one with a bit more bite to it; all perfectly seasoned and cooked. The rich and creamy potato gratin made each bite hearty.

The idea of having three different steaks on one plate is sheer genius. Now, you could have three different palate experiences—and a good topic of conversation. Each steak has its distinct bite, chew, taste and character.

Many people who go into the nitty-gritty of fine cuisine would have a blast just figuring it all out.

For dessert, there is something you should never miss at Hyatt—its homemade ice cream, enjoyed alone or as part of a concoction.

I’ve discovered that few make ice creams like they do at Hyatt. The ube ice cream is without a doubt the best I’ve tried. That night, capping our protein-packed dinner was the decadent Chocolate Soup with homemade cracked black pepper vanilla ice cream.

I knew exactly what to expect when I came for dinner but somehow, the reaffirmation was still a fresh experience.

If you crave for steaks cooked to perfection, and a place with ambiance and good service, Fireplace should be top of mind—like steak samplers for Valentine’s Day (tel. 245-1234).

Preparing for Perth
On Feb. 7, Le Toque Blanche will need your help.
Let us support our LTB Philippines Culinary Team as they prepare to battle it out at the Western Australian Oceanafest Culinary Competition in Perth on March 22, 2011.
Our team, led by Ariel Manuel, has chefs Ruel Tiquis and Garry de Guia of Lolo Dad’s Café and Brasserie 6750, chefs Jasmin Magallanes and Cyrille Ermita of Enderun Colleges. They will go up against the national teams of Singapore, HK and Australia in the Restaurant of Nations Competition.
On Feb. 7 the team will present a special three-course menu: Asian Pot Au Feu with Prawns and Scallops in Light Ginger and Lemongrass Broth, Roasted Saddle of Lamb with Shiitake Crepinette, Sweetbreads, Pea Flan and Marinated Vegetables, Spiced Pineapple on Coconut Dacquoise with Yogurt Mousse and Almond Brittle
Call Girlie now at 8108735 or 8102763. Only 86 seats available! See you!

For my 2011 cooking class schedules, call 0917-5543700, 0908-2372346, 4008496 or 9289296

E-mail the author at

Here's the link to my own blog about Hyatt's Fireplace!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Opulent Comfort Food, the Lusso Way!

Lusso Truffle Potato Crisps

Born in 1822 as George Speck of American and African ancestry, later taking his jockey-Father's professional name, Crum, found his calling to be a Chef. In a fit of frustration and anger towards a hard-to-please customer one evening in 1853 at Cary Moon's Restaurant in Saratoga, New York, Chef Crum, on his third attempt of preparing French fries, decided to over-season the potatoes and cut them too thinly so they couldn't be pierced by a fork. Voila! Chef George Crum gave the world potato crisps!

Lusso takes this world favorite to a higher level by drizzling some truffle oil on the potato crisps because truffle = drizzle that will send you to a gastronomic seductive smell to heaven!

Asiago Fries
French fries + melted Asiago cheese.
Need I say more?
I will then!

French Fries.
Location? Belgium, not France.
When? 1680.
Why? When rivers/streams froze over, potatoes were cut into strips to mimic the shape of little fish and fried them to a crisp.

Asiago Cheese
Since 1000 AD, from the Asiago High Plateau which lies within the Italian Alps, this nutty flavored cheese or also known as "mountain cheese', is produced two ways : fresh Asiago or Pressato and the mature Asiago or Asiago d´Allevo.

Who knew that there was so much more to catsup, mustard, mayonnaise dips for French Fries? Chef Gaita Fores did, that's for sure! And how lucky are we for her to share this melted cheese over the crispy fried taters strips!

Demi-Pound Foie Gras Burger

Half pound US Ground Beef Burger with Foie Gras bits inside the patty that melts inside the burger when it's grilled to infuse another layer of juiciness and beef-complementing taste, topped with caramelized onions in Prosecco, enveloped in a super crusty toasted hamburger bun, comes with a Cambozola Bath for you to either spoon on your Demi-pound burger or just dip into the creamy cheese sauce.
It's served with crispy fries and a simple green salad dredged with a perfect-tasting vinaigrette that harmonized it's balsamic vinegar acidity and the fresh green produce.

The caramelized onions slowly simmered in a demi-sec sparkling wine of Italy's Veneto region to give it a hint of "orchard" flavor.

Invented in the early 1970's at Bavaria, Cambozola Cheese made of cow's milk is meant to be a cross between Gorgonzola and Camembert. Chef Gaita Fores transforms this soft, creamy blue/brie hybrid with a little of mix of Bechamel Sauce, into the perfect pairing for the Half-pounder burger delight.

Laguiole Knife

The 1829 Laguiole (pronounced "Lie-yole") knives are excellent for slicing and never goes rusty. The notches on the top of the blade prevent the index finger from slipping. Said to be inspired by the Spanish Navaja knife and the French dagger, Capuchado.

Luxe Mac and Cheese
with Pancetta, formaggio trio

Pancetta is an Italian pork belly that's dry cured with salt, pepper and other spices, quite similar to how bacon is prepared for about 3 months.

This dish was mellow love with a triple cheese punch!

Yes, our childhood favorite dish of Pennette Pasta (Well, us mortals were using elbow macaroni), butter, milk or creme, egg, seasonings, spices, 3 kinds of cheese (Parmiggiano reggiano, Cheddar and Mascarpone), crispy pancetta, topped with mini toasted bread cubes and minced parsley.

I am inclined to believe that the Mascarpone is the culprit to having this delightful creamy, mellow cheese texture! Where most were using Romano or Asiago, Chef Gaita Fores decides to use this "creamy curd cheese" to get that velvety texure. What an ingenious idea!

With its origins from the Lombardy region of Southern Italy, Mascarpone is the result of a culture added to the cream skimmed off the milk, made much in the same way as yogurt.

Pot-de-Creme Chocolat
or French Chocolate Custard Cups

Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean or cocoa bean, ground and roasted, which becomes the raw material for the wonderful chocolate desserts and treats we all heart.

From it's French sweet baked origin, this rich and creamy dessert is traditionally a mixture of dark chocolate, cream, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and salt, served in coffee cups or ramekins. Over the years, other variations could include coffee, whiskey, orange or lemon rinds and a little sugar on top that's torched to give it a caramelized topping for added texture.

Lusso, Greenbelt 5
G/F Greenbelt 5, Legaspi St., Legaspi Village
Makati City, Metro Manila
(02) 756-5893

☀ ☀ ☀

Thanks, Lusso!
I will be back!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Date with Destiny - Fireplace!

Although I've heard of Hyatt Manila's The Fireplace a number of times, it wasn't until my niece, Jin, insisted that I should try it, that it was embedded into the sensory nerves of my brain that I have to journey off to that promised grilling paradise.

The woodsy interiors with leather banquets, high burnished copper ceiling, animal-style striped rug, spattering of round and square tables all over the room and the gracious smiles of the restaurant staff warmly greeted me as I enter The Fireplace.

Chef Nelson and Chef Noel standing proudly in front of their Copper-finish custom-made Australian Beech Oven!

Roldan makes sure that the restaurant's prized possession is brushed, cleaned every night so their dining guests won't get those bitter charred bits.

Sourdough Bread

The Fireplace's Sourdough bread is served to you warmly toasted straight from their fire oven with Balsamic Vinegar & Extra Virgin Olive Oil while you wait for your food to be served. The crusty-ness of the bread lives up to what a sour-dough bread should be - CRUSTY! I couldn't help myself and asked for some unsalted butter to spread on the crusty exterior and the soft, warm inside of the bread dipped in the vinegar+oil! I prefer unsalted butter since it uses fresher cream than salted butter for a higher quality of creaminess.

Lobster Bisque

In Jin's blog (Sign up to her food blog - Jin Loves to Eat! She has quite an extensive food posts and her recommendations have never led me astray. I'm so proud of my niece!), she warns that this is not available in the menu, so beg, if you must.

Marian, The Fireplace's charming restaurant Supervisor, helped me talk to Chef Nelson, for a serving of this must-try crustacean soup. I didn't beg but then widening my small, slit eyes as big as they could, I squeaked out my desire to have that soup with a matching pleading look and the sweetest smile I could manage on my lips! Chef Nelson then agreed if I was willing to wait.


I've had my share of Lobster Bisque! Everytime I see this in a resto's menu, I make it a point to order it. But I must say this is probably one of the best Lobster Bisque I've tried. Perfect balanced seasoning harmonizing with the sweet lobster taste and tender pieces of lobster meat! No wonder the lobster is the King of Seafood!

That same night, I met Hyatt Manila's debonair, ultra-friendly and wonderfully receptive Executive Chef Josef Miklavc and declared to him that it's a sin not to have it on their menu as a regular item. Hope this yummy savory soup will make it back to their menu! And I promise to take his photo next time and add it here!

Chilled 10oz. US Angus Ribeye, medium-well

The ribeye steak, usually taken from the rib section, has extra fat which makes this one of the juiciest, more tender, heavily marbled cut of beef. And everyone knows that fat = flavor.

Chilled steaks are ideally vaccum packed and chilled at around 1'C to 4'C for several days up to 3 weeks. This process "ages" the beef until it achieves an intense beef flavor and uber tenderness.

The Fireplace's secret dry-rub is coated all over the ribeye before it's grilled in the fabulous Beech Oven to a perfectly-charred, medium well-done meat! Not all restos can cook a perfect done-ness; this resto has that nailed to an art form.

I'm a "purist"... so I didn't actually need the sauces, but they offered me 3 sauces: Red wine glaze, Mushroom with thyme and Bearnaise, which all tasted good.

A red wine glaze is a reduction of fond or the steak drippings mixed with red wine, stock, seasonings and spices.

Mushroom & Thyme sauce that goes with Steaks are made from fond mixed with mushroom, stock, sherry, thyme, seasonings and spices plus a little flour to thicken the sauce.

Bearnaise is a classic French hot emulsion sauce made from clarified butter, egg yolks with a bit of vinegar and tarragon.

Please sit up straight, look, listen and learn!!
THIS! THIS is the correct done-ness for a medium well steak!
Don't let other restaurants fool you otherwise!

Internal temperature should be around 65'C to 70'C.

Meat should be pink in the center, without any blood. Feels firm with the slightest springy-feel.

Gratinated Potato

Gratin, with its French culinary origins, is prepared in a shallow dish topped usually with either breadcrumb crusts or grated cheese and baked to form a golden crust on top.

While it took them about 30 minutes to prepare this carbo-loading dish, it was worth the wait.
The potatoes were cooked just right. Not soggy or undercooked. Just right with great Parmesan flavors!

Chocolate Soup

Think of your favorite cocoa drink. You know, the ones made from cocoa tablea with a batirol and an egg is added after achieving it's thick, frothy consistency?

The Fireplace prepares this using dark German chocolate, baked to form a thin layer of crust, served warm with Hyatt's very own Vanilla ice cream sprinkled with Black Pepper powder.

For serious dessert-lovers! Not for the faint of heart.

Oh! But just in case, Fireplace will generously give you another scoop of their ice cream if you want it a more milk-chocolatey taste. A perfect ending to a perfect meal!

The Fireplace, Hyatt Hotel & Casino Manila
5/F Hyatt Hotel and Casino, 1588 Pedro Gil cor. MH del Pilar, Malate
Manila, Metro Manila
(02) 245-1234

☀ ☀ ☀

Thanks, The Fireplace!
I will be back!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Haagen Das' Waffles Ice Cream Plate!
MOA, Pasay City

After a savory Spanish lunch at Casa Armas (Nakpil Street, Malate, Manila) with my High School batchmate, Jane, we headed off to the ginormous Mall of Asia, Pasay City for some dessert.

After strolling around the area to juggle up the tummy and make some space for the much awaited sweets, we spotted the X11 colored (read: Maroon) walls with the all-too familiar black lettered, white background and maroon trimmed logo which only promised mouth-watering sugar-laden ice-cold delight!


After settling ourselves comfortably in their heavily cushioned chair, I scanned through the about 15-page of glossy photos of chilly sweets, intently reading the short description of what I could taste, I decided on the Waffle Ice Cream dessert.

It's 2 pieces of crunchy waffles with maple syrup and whipped cream, a scoop of Dulce De Leche (my fave) and Macademia Nut Brittle drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with almond nuts, 3 slices of bananas and 1 strawberry with a dallop of whipped cream.

With a huge smile on my face, I asked the crew to make it well-done crunchy and lo, they didn't disappoint me... it came out that way!

Awesome crunchiness! When you munch on the waffle, you could actually hear the cccrrruunnnncccchhhh! YUM!

Didn't need the aromatic maple syrup that came with it since the Macadamia Nut Brittle and Dulce De Leche (my fave!) complemented the waffles perfectly!

I slowly lapped up this yummy dessert in between stories and jokes with Jane (who ordered a Monte Cristo) to perfectly cap the mid-afternoon before heading off to Big Bucket for a relaxing Foot Massage!

Haagen-Dazs Café, SM Mall of Asia
2/F Main Bldg., SM Mall of Asia, SM Central Business Park I, Bay City
Pasay City, Metro Manila
(02) 556-1111

☀ ☀ ☀

Thanks, Haagen-Dazs Café!
I will be back!